“The Pilgrim; Lydia Bennet and a Soldiers portion” by Don Jacobson.
Welcome back, as summer finally gives way for autumn, I am finishing Don Jacobson’s seventh book in the Wardrobe series and was amazed yet again.
Don Jacobson has been so kind as to give us a peek into his new book, so come along and read a bit;
Longbourn Estate, Meryton, August 26, 1813
After Lydia had been injured when assaulted outside of Aunt Philips’ house by two militia officers, she was forced to recuperate from her broken nose and facial bruises at Longbourn while the Wilsons and Tomkinses traveled to Lyme Regis for a seaside holiday. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had repaired to Darcy House for a fortnight. The privacy the young couple enjoyed further strengthened their bonds.
Sol had yet to chase away the morning mist in the hollows around the base of Oakham Mount when the Bennet chaise rolled out between Longbourn’s granite sentinels. Wickham lifted a solitary hand in salute as the carriage turned southwest onto the Lane angling towards the St. Albans-Southampton Post Road. T’would be three full days of travel for the Wilsons and Tomkins…and the beginning of the time needed for George’s wife to mend. That interval would also allow them to explore the possibilities and confines of their marriage. After all, Wickham had been away on duty for over half of the couple’s married life.
Much had been discovered—and more had been promised—in that all-too-brief window between the Madras House Twelfth Night Ball and the 2nd Battalion’s deployment back in the Year ‘12. Now, with the privacy of a near-empty Longbourn embracing them, the Wickhams reverted to their official standing, that of a young married couple still in the first blush of marriage.
Lydia began leaving her bed shortly after her companions’ departure despite her husband’s attempts to keep her above-stairs. Her escape on the very first day had been accomplished with the assistance of Mrs. Hill. That worthy assisted her last homebound near-child to don her shift and gown, gently threading the long-framed young woman through necklines, sleeves, and hems: helping her to avoid any painful snags.
Wickham discovered that his hen had flown her coop when he looked into their chamber after he had spent the heat of the day slashing at hay bales obligingly arranged in front of the stables. He fully expected to see his wife obediently propped up in bed. Yet, as he had begun to learn, the only constant about Lydia Wickham was that she marched to her own drummer and not to the beat dictated by society, the apothecary, or her husband.
After searching for his wife throughout Longbourn’s public rooms, George began a circuit of the grounds.
Concern over her well-being threw him into a brown study, aping his former playmate’s inner turmoil when Fitzwilliam Darcy wrestled with his perceived responsibility for every person in his sphere. The Lieutenant vacillated between exasperation, worry, and philosophizing.
Now, where has that girl gotten herself to? I recall Mother Bennet’s gripes about Mrs. Darcy and her incessant rambling throughout the countryside. Has my Lydia torn a page from her sister’s book?
While Jones asserted that she was not concussed, neither did he give a clean bill! What if she faints and lands on her face? She could choke on the fresh flow of blood!
Moments later, as the number of possible hideouts dwindled to a precious few,
Why, I wonder, do people insist that you will find what you have lost in the last place you look. Of course, t’would be the last place because you would seek no more. If the pundits wished to be correct, they should suggest that t’would be the last place you think of looking.
That last place for Lieutenant Wickham should have been his first if he had known the deep story of his wife’s family…at least that on the Gardiner side. However, even though they had been married for two years, Wickham was only just beginning to learn the contours of his wife’s mind, heritage, and heart.
The one location any Gardiner woman would go to find tranquility would be her rose garden. Lydia Bennet Wickham was nothing if not a Gardiner female. Not only did she exhibit the stunning beauty of her eldest sister and mother, but Lydia also loved rosa floribunda as much as any of her siblings or her Mama…and as history would later document…perhaps more.
When Wickham rounded the corner of the house, he spied a tall, well-formed lady dressed in a lightweight white gown with pink highlights picked out of the muslin. The blush tone accented unpinned blonde tresses tumbling down from beneath her broad-brimmed sunbonnet and pooling around her shoulders. She was hip-deep in her mother’s rose beds, passing between the bloom-heavy canes, a pair of shears in her gloved hands, snipping flowers and dropping them into a basket. Delicate down fluffed above her bare arms’ tawny skin and shimmered in the midsummer light.
Wickham was transfixed by the quiet loveliness of the scene before him. Here walked his wife, still years away from her majority yet appearing for all the world like the mistress of a great estate. He could hear her humming a tune, it’s random, but not discordant, notes carried to his ears on the barest of zephyrs which rustled her loosened locks. Lydia resided in a deep pool of peace, its waves radiating outward to embrace all within the pretty little wilderness.
At some point, Wickham must have disturbed the invisible currents that flowed around and through them both. Lydia languidly turned her head and caught sight of her love slowly approaching her as if she were a bird that would take flight. Her toothy smile, given with only the slightest grimace as the muscles shifted beneath her bruises, welcomed him to move closer, to enter her perfumed bower.
As he came up to her, Lydia grasped his hand, her glove’s rough canvas abrading his palm’s tender skin, smarting now as evidence of its lost battle hardness. Blisters rose where calluses were needed to cushion saber grips and tomahawk handles. His wince caused her to release her grip and cradle his hand in hers.
“Oh my, dearest, your tortured skin reminds me of my face,” Lydia cried, and, after a thoughtful pause, continued, “You know, Papa’s coachman swears by pickle brine to toughen the skin.
“However, I think we are too late for anything like that. The salt and vinegar would drive you mad with pain. I think what we must do is treat these just like we did your back, using Campbell’s prescription…wool grease and wrappings until the blisters die down. We shall have to return to the beginning to start over and toughen you up for His Lordship.
“You, Lieutenant Wickham, are on light duty as of this moment. No complaints from you.”
Wickham grinned back at the fiery woman ten years his junior and assayed an exaggerated bow, “Mais oui, ma Reine. Your darling Wickham has been trying to get battle-ready, but he forgot the agony it took to get that way in the first place.
“This is our time, dearest, to enjoy one another’s company. I promise that this will be the last of my war training until Wilson and Tomkins return.”
Lydia huffed at him, “I am the one who is supposed to be wallowing like a particularly happy porker in the loving care of my husband. Yet, here you are…
“Well, George, there is nothing for it, we will have to take care of each other.”
As summer wains and descends towards autumn, the wardrobe has yet again a life to change and teach. From the summer of 1815, straight after Waterloo to the summer in occupied France in 1940, Lydia is guided to her sister Kitty’s side – this time on Kitty’s side of the wardrobe doors.
From the silliest of girls in England, Lydia has her work cut out for her. Never in my life did I believe an author could change my fixed opinion of Lydia.
Through the changes of the mysterious and sometimes nasty wardrobe, Lydia learns quite a few truths about herself, while the Second World War is brewing in Europe.
During the story, the reader is acquainted with a portrait of a split oak on the edge of a great void – which I personally see as loss, where one wants to loose oneself in the darkness of the things beyond our reach, truths and reasons why horrible things happens.
“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus, grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.”
Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister
Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.
The analogy of painting and portraits is one of the returning features of this piece of the varied story of the Bennet’s and the wardrobe, especially when it comes to the realizations the many Bennet ladies/men have during their travels and experiences in the where/when.
While the WWII brews, Lydia once again awakens to the notion of love, after terrible personal losses. Much prejudice, differences and an unwavering affection sees a new happiness in the midst or ending of the terrible world war II as June 1944 approaches, one of our beloved characters is laid low by a terrible illness.
Can love grow amidst of differing loyalties, politics and opinions? And just what is the wardrobe’s plans for not only Lydia, but the entire Bennet family? What is the Wardrobe’s purpose? Is it to help or destroy the Bennet’s? Or to execute a plan of an older being?
Read this fantastic book to find out… or learn something new of a Bennet girl, we all misunderstood or disliked. From the silliest girl in England, to possibly the strongest and most changed character Don has written throughout the series. Lydia’s evolution throughout the book, is likely the strongest and most profound, perhaps maybe for Lady Kates story in the Belle Epoque. Don’s way of writing the Bennet’s and the people around them is not only emotionally brilliant but also easy to relate to, and amazing to see how Don connects all the dots of every plotline throughout the books.
Lydia’s profound change from the silly girl who runs away with a scoundrel, to end up in a profoundly passionate and equal marriage – to her personal evolution in the 20th century. To finish this review, I am quoting Lydia;
“Now I understand that a soldier’s portion is to bear up under adversity with grace… or at least graceful grumbling. Every soldier needs must have a clear perception of his duty and priorities.”
Lydia certainly learned & evolved both as a woman, but also as a soldier’s wife. I can only say, congratulations to Don on yet another 5-star rated book.
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)
Don is also a member of JASNA. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).
He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.
You can contact Don like this;
Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author’s Page
Goodreads Author’s Page (with blog)
Author Website (with blog)Twitter (@AustenesqueAuth)
And likewise buy his earlier works from here;
And Finally, the giveaway;
Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion
Use the link below to link to rafflecopter on website.
I’ll see you next time, hopefully in October, guys. Please do remember to leave a comment here on my blog, won’t you? Until next time.